2017’s biggest flop?

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Love or hate it, Guy Ritchie’s take on King Arthur in this film isn’t doing too well in the box office. I generally try to ignore these details, but they are somewhat difficult to overlook with this movie. The latest outing of the famous king is looking at at least a $100 million shortfall—ouch.

When we went to see the film I was expecting a complete catastrophe, but it isn’t as bad as the reviews will make you believe. I do recognize that this is a horrible way to state how bad or good something is, but the film doesn’t completely suck. The film does a lot of things wrong, but it also does a lot of things right. Where the film actually ends up is a messy narrative with some highpoints.

They should have named the movie The King From the Streets, because Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) is more of street fighter than a royal prince. (I should note: the film strays vastly from the source material.) He runs a band of merry miscreants and is working on cutting out his own corner of the world when he is forced to draw the sword from the stone. Of course, this sets off a chain of events that lead him to face down the evil Vortigern (Jude Law) and accept his fate as king.

Arthur’s mentality, wit, and humor reminded me more of Robin Hood—and his band of knights fit in with this as well. The dialogue of the movie is often hilarious, and mainstays from Game of Thrones like Aiden Gillen add a bit to the scenes they are involved in. Gillen in particularly (you probably know him as Petyr Baelish from GoT) ends up stealing a lot of scenes, but Hunnam holds his own and often does appear to be a strong leader of the group.

The scattered action sequences work well (to a point) where we have Arthur and his friends fleeing from a superior force. The action is frantic and fun, but then the CGI has to come in. One the power of Excalibur is unleashed, which appears to more or less be a God mode cheat code, the fights lose any sense of drama or suspense. Instead, the magic sword just kills everything in a flurry of sand and smoke. I would never have guessed that this movie would have witty dialogue but boring action.

Further dragging the movie down is a somewhat weak narrative. The film remains predictable despite straying so far from the source material. Worse yet, it is clear that this film wanted a sequel, and left a lot of stuff in the air thinking they could deal with it later. A criticism I have heard is that film is too male centric, and it is a bro-fest. The only major female character is just called Mage (Astrid Berges-Frisbey), and there is no romance. My guess is that Mage is actually Guinevere in this universe, but we will likely never know.

The film tries to be gritty, but works better as a witty comedy. It tries to be epic, but works better when subtle. Too much is happening at once in this film for any one idea or thread to fully work. It isn’t a terrible movie, quite the contrary—it is entertaining, but the experience is shallow. 5/10

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